Black cocky count down

Image: File photo.
Image: File photo.

A single night’s count in the Swan region, extending from Yanchep to Mandurah into the Darling Range, by hundreds of volunteers showed numbers substantially lower than three years ago.

Birdlife’s threatened cockatoo project manager Matt Fossey said the outlook was bleak with continual destruction of the birds’ vital habitat.

‘And it’s not just native bush that is being cleared,’ he said. ‘Pine plantations, which are now vital to the cockies’ survival, are also being cleared at an alarming rate.’

BirdLife Australia wants the State to stop the clearing of the Carnaby’s habitat, pending a strategic assessment of the Perth and Peel regions by both Federal and State governments.

Mr Fossey said although this year’s tally of 5800 cockies was 44 per cent up over the last two years, it was well below the 6700 birds recorded in 2010.

This year, volunteers spotted more cockies north of the Swan River while numbers at regular sites farther south were well down. Paradoxically, however, the increased numbers might not be a good sign.

‘The greater number of Carnaby’s seen north of the Swan is probably due to parts of the Gnangara, Pinjar and Yanchep pine plantations being cleared, by about 1000ha a year, which has removed a vital feeding and roosting area,’ he said.

‘As a result, the cockatoos have been forced to move into areas where they are more easily observed.

‘With Perth’s rapid expansion, greater protection and management of critical Carnaby’s habitat is essential for them to survive in the urban environment.

‘Birdlife Australia is calling on the Barnett government to halt clearing of Carnaby’s habitat on the Swan Coastal Plain until the strategic assessment of the Perth and Peel regions has been completed.

‘Communities in these regions are anticipating strong conservation outcomes to be delivered for the cockatoos through this process.’

Natural Resource Management Perth region funded the 2013 Great Cocky Count through the Federal Government’s Caring for our Country program.